Chris Ferguson, Campus Carrier Asst. Sports Editor
As the end of the semester is approaching, so is the Viking football regular season. However, this is not the end for the Vikings because of the amount of wins they were able to garner throughout their season. The team boasts a 9-0 record this season, with a 6-0 record in conference after their 35-18 win this weekend against Birmingham-Southern College.
This win ensured them a bid to compete in the Division III NCAA playoffs. The team also secured a guaranteed share as conference champions, regardless if they lose their next game against Trinity College on Nov. 11. However, if they win this game, they become the undisputed conference champions of the Southern Athletic Association (SAA).
“It feels really good to win the conference, and it really came from the preparation by our coaches,” said sophomore Jacob Bishop. “The athletes may be the ones making the plays, but we wouldn’t be nearly as successful without our coaches.”
Looking back four years ago at the start of the program, the football team’s record did not reflect the current standing of today’s team. The team has taken large steps forward since their debut season. In 2013, the Vikings experienced a 0-9 season which did not give insight to the 9-0 record that stands today.
Because the program is so young, the team’s success this year has gained them national recognition from other Division III programs across the nation. According to D3football.com, Berry College football is currently ranked number 17 in the country for the first time in program history.
Head Coach Tony Kunczewski said it is a huge accomplishment for the team and the program to be among the top teams in the national rankings.
“It feels really good to be nationally ranked because it helps the institution and all Berry teams gain notoriety,” said Kunczewski. “Nobody puts more pressure on the team than ourselves, and now we have a strong obligation to represent the conference. We want the SAA to become more recognized. The better we perform will not only help football, but other teams as well.”
The Vikings have also managed to rack up some record-breaking statistics this season. With a 14-game winning streak, Berry currently has the third longest active streak in NCAA Division III Football. This is also their longest overall winning streak in the program’s history.
On the offensive side, the Vikings average 35.3 points per game and a staggering 425 yards per game. They are also in the top ten rankings in Division III for red zone scoring percentage at 95 percent. This means that when the offense in within 20 yards of the goal line, there is a 95 percent chance that they will score.
On the defensive side, they have 15 defensive interceptions and 25 quarterback sacks on the season. Like the offense, they are also in the top ten rankings in Division III for rushing defense, with an average of only 58 yards given up per game.
Coach Kunczewski said that this season’s success started where last year’s left off, and picked up at the beginning of the season.
“We always tell our guys how hard it is to come out and win each and every game throughout the season,” Kunczewski said. “It’s a huge accomplishment to battle and find a way to win because our conference is so balanced. It’s also a huge credit to our coaching staff to keep our players looking ahead and not dwelling on the past. Last year, we had the playoffs in our grasp and this motivated us to be successful this season.”